Frequently Asked Questions


I have never been in a sea kayak. Is that a problem?

We offer sea kayaking tours to suit every experience level. Our 2.5-hour Harbor & Islands Paddle and our 3.5-hour Islands Paddle & Lost Fort Trek are especially well-suited for those who want to try their hand at sea kayaking for the first time. We begin every tour with an equipment orientation and paddle lesson to ensure you’ll be comfortable, safe and have a great time.

What kind of shape do I have to be in?

All trips of half-day or less are designed for anyone in reasonably good health. If you can roam the length of a Mall back home, you can enjoy sea kayaking. We generally paddle at a very leisurely pace. With a little advance notice we can even accommodate folks who have limited mobility. If you still have any concerns, please just give us a call or email.

Are there minimum/maximum weight & height requirements?

We operate a range of kayak types that can be adjusted to fit almost any body shape and size, up to a weight of about 275 pounds and a height of about 6-feet 6-inches tall. Young participants must weigh at least 40 pounds to properly fit our child-size PFD’s (life vests).

Is sea kayaking a good activity to do with our kids?

Sea kayaking is a great family activity, however, we do recommend that participants should be at least 6 years old for our shorter-duration tours and at least 12 years old for our full-day adventures – but that is more of an “attention span thing” than an “age limit thing”. We will sometimes allow younger kids on the shorter tours, but they must ride in the middle seat of a triple kayak accompanied by at least one parent or guardian.

What if I’m old enough to remember The Great Depression … the last one?

Good on you, mate. Come on and let’s go paddling. We’ll show you some fabulous scenery and you can coach us on how to get through the present mess we’re in. But really: we’ll make sure you’re paired with a reasonably strong paddling partner, and we guarantee it will be a blast.

Is it possible that I’ll tip over … and do I have to know how to swim?

Yup, it is possible to tip over, but it is a very rare occurrence. It typically happens when a paddler is goofing around (like when Mom use to say: “You’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’, Mister”). Our guides will provide good instruction on the basic paddling and bracing techniques, and you’ll find out for yourself that sea kayaks – especially our double and triple kayaks – are far more stable than you might imagine. You do not need to know how to swim. You will be wearing a PFD (life vest) at all times while in the kayak.

Can I sign up as a single person?

Well, are you single by choice or are you really annoying? Don’t worry about it. Many of our guests are single and we will pair you with another single paddler or with one of our guides.

What kind of clothes and footgear should I wear?

Please come dressed in layers you can add or shed to adjust for changes in the weather, same as you would for a day hike. Don’t wear cotton if you can help it. Wool, fleece and synthetics are best since they will retain warmth even when wet. Wear comfortable sneakers or walking shoes that have a flexible sole. If you have them; bring rain gear and a warm hat or cap. We will outfit you with fully-rainproof gear if it looks certain to be a wet day.

Will my kayak trip be cancelled if it is raining?

It does rain fairly often in Southeast Alaska (almost all the places that are not covered with glacier ice or ocean are blanketed in our thick, luxurious rainforest). Fortunately, rain does not diminish the fun or safety of sea kayaking. The only time we cancel is when there are strong winds and/or waves. In the unlikely event we do cancel because of unsafe conditions you will receive a 100% refund.

How cold will the water be?

Contrary to popular belief, the waters along the coast of Southeast Alaska are not freezing cold, unless you are right next to a tidewater glacier. The surface water temperature in Sitka Sound is usually about 50 degrees in the early-spring, and it climbs to around 58 degrees by late-summer. Some folks even opt to go for a little swim from the beach when the sun is shinning.

Am I likely to see any wildlife?

Actually, it would be highly unlikely to not spot wildlife on one of our kayak trips. Sitka Sound is an amazingly rich marine environment that supports an abundance of wildlife including: humpback, grey, minke & orca whales, sea lions, porpoise, harbor seals, sea otters, puffins and more. Even in our picturesque boat harbors it is common to sight sea lions, seals and bald eagles. And the intertidal zone and kelp forests are chock-full of colorful marine life. On our full-day adventures it is possible to spot massive brown bears wandering along the coast.

What if the ship I’m traveling on is delayed or has an itinerary change?

If your ship is delayed we can usually figure a way to make it all work out fine. We almost always know in advance if a ship is going to be late or if its itinerary has changed – so we’ll be working out a “Plan B” even before we have a chance to communicate with you. If an alternate plan is not possible we guarantee you will receive a full refund.

How will I find Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures on the day of my trip?

Sitka is a small town and we are really easy to find. Our base of operations is the Big Blue Bus parked at Crescent Harbor, right next to the dock that most cruiseships use when tendering their guests to shore. It is also right next to the shuttle bus terminal that folks arrive at when they are off a cruiseship that has moored at the Old Sitka Dock located a few miles north of town. If you are on a ship that is tendering to the O’Connell Bridge Dock, you’ll just need to walk a couple blocks east along Harbor Drive to our location. If in doubt, call us at (907) 752-0660 and we’ll make sure you get pointed in the right direction.

Is it possible my kayak trip will run so long that I miss my ship?

We have been operating tours for cruiseship visitors for over 25 years, and we’ve never let anyone miss their ship. We pay very close attention to the cruiseship “All Aboard” times, and we will only allow you to participate on a tour that is certain to return before you have to be back on the ship.

Should I offer a tip to my guide(s) at the end of the trip?

We have an outstanding team of guides who train and work hard to perfect their skills. If you feel your guide(s) provided exceptional service – that they went above & beyond to conduct a great paddle adventure – then feel free to express your thanks with a tip. Any gratuity you choose to give will be shared evenly by the guides for your trip.

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